1.This June, Maryland's Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) voted to raise both the inpatient and outpatient rates of Maryland hospitals by 1.65% for the period July 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013, and to revisit those rates for the period January 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014, after taking into consideration, among other things, the status of the HSCRC's application for a new waiver test to preserve the ability of Maryland hospitals to continue to charge Medicare patients at HSCRC rates, as opposed to Medicare rates.
2. The HSCRC also announced recently that HSCRC staff would convene a working group this summer to explore creation of an all-payor Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in Maryland. ACOs are collaborations of primary care physicians and other health care providers designed to incentivize providers to reduce health care expenditures of third party payors (such as Medicare) by awarding the ACO a portion of any savings on such expenditures for patients assigned to the ACO.
3. In April, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the entity charged with operating the individual and small group health insurance marketplace created under health care reform, announced $24 million in grants to six regional "connectors" to support the opening of the Exchange in October. The Exchange anticipates enrolling 180,000 individuals in 2014 health plans satisfying Obamacare and State coverage mandates. Connectors receiving grants aim to educate, contact, and enroll those individuals, as well as determine their eligibility for benefits connected to the marketplace, such as income-based subsidies for purchasing coverage and referral to Medicaid.
4. In May, Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene finalized new regulations for pharmacies serving assisted living facilities (ALFs). The regulations mandate policies and procedures for compounding, dispensing, and storing drugs for ALF residents. The regulations also include drug packaging, labeling, and disposal rules. ALFs must appoint a "responsible pharmacist" licensed by Maryland's Board of Pharmacy to execute these duties.